Friday, 31 August 2012

Yeats had the same opinion

Well, it’s no surprise, really.
Yeats had the same opinion about me.
‘I’m not having you in the book of poems I’m editing,’
he said.
(I’m paraphrasing him.  Call it revenge.)
‘I’m not sure I like the way you write about war,’
he said,
(only he might have said ‘loike’,
so you see,
in lots of ways, we were different.)
‘A bit too much suffering for my loiking
and not what we’re looking for in poetry,’
he said.
(Oh, forgive me, Mr W B Yeats,
for daring to mention the blood.)

And, now, here come Shropshire Council,
borrowing from Yeats’ ideas.
(Don’t they know that’s called plagiarism?)
'We’ll just pretend that what he had to say
isn't as important as people thought,'
they say.
'We’ll just, while no one’s looking,
pile up bricks and roofs and window frames
in the apple orchard where he played
and surround his birthplace with other noise
until his voice is silenced,'
they say.

(Gosh, I hate to point it out,
you being wise councillors, and all,
but it didn’t work for Yeats,
and I don’t see your council documents
on every exam syllabus....)

© Fran Hill

Wilfred Owen: Call to protect WWI poet's home

William Butler Yeats - On Being Asked for a War Poem (1915)

Fran lives in the West Midlands (UK). She teaches English in a local secondary school, writes, performs, blogs, tweets and tries to resist chocolate.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

You love me you say

You love me you say, as in silent pain
I cower beneath the knuckles of your caring fist
and stare up, defenceless.
                                      You stop your hand
just inches from my cheek, indecisive,
and bending over me, your breath a caress,
say it’s for my own good, and start again
to bruise my skin, and burst my lip,
and break my jaw.
                            And through blackened eyes
I gaze at your face, feel your passion,
and take your abuse, this token of your love,
for I so dearly love you, more deeply than you know.
And I forgive you as always.

© Anthony Baverstock

Can you tell who it is yet?

Anthony Baverstock is from Colchester, reputed home of Humpty-Dumpty.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Ferrymen

Old Mr Loteef crosses the Buriganga
sixty times a day.
He dodges cargo ships and gravel barges,
his single-oared sampan earning him
a two taka  fare –  too small
to register as currency
for Mr Colin
enjoying a ferryman’s holiday.

His river is the Thames.
But today he sits beneath
a black umbrella
as Mr Loteef, tired of forty-degree,
fourteen-hour days
and sometimes navigating
by the moon,
slowly carries him across.

'If God gave me wings I’d go back
to my village and mark my father’s grave.'
He tells Mr Colin he owns a plot
of land, too small to feed his family.
If he could buy two cows
they wouldn’t have to live
in Dhaka’s slums, but one cow
costs more than a year’s rowing.

At home in London,
Mr Colin is staring at the moon
thinking about small steps
and mankind.
In one crossing he earns enough
to buy two cows.
In Bangladesh, Mr Loteef makes
a giant leap back to his village.

© Michael Ray

The fearless ferrymen of Dhaka's Buriganga river

US astronaut Neil Armstrong dies, first man on Moon

Michael Ray  is a glass artist living in West Cork Ireland. In 2011 he won the RTE John Murray National Poetry Competition. His work has appeared in The Moth, Asylum, The Independent and Cyphers 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Shut Down: Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida

I woke up in my nightgown,
saw that Waxing Gibbous moon,
and wanted to hold it
to my mother's breast!

Then this, Dear Lord--
You, or That or Some Entity
I now capitalize, but often reject
as invented! Sir Isaac...

Isaac, Sir, or otherwise,
a Tropical Storm of
some consequence,
you are now rolling into Tampa,
with circulation fierce:

You shut it down on Sunday,
and, I for one, believe it true that
there are no accidents. And you?

Republican men, hear this prayer:
Whoever is in charge!
Pierce those cold hearts
with love or fear--or both--
and help them take
all women into their fold
with equity and grace--or drown.

©  Kay Weeks

Republicans Postpone Start of Convention Because of Severe Weather

Kay Weeks. Ellicott City, MD. Worked in national historic preservation for 30 years, Dep’t of Interior, National Park Service, in the policy-setting Wash. DC home office.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Wild About Harry!

The First Manifestation Of Harlotry
(It Taketh Two To Tango)


A blissful couple, young and fair
Once lazed among some apple trees.
And she was dressed with nought to wear
And he was scarcely dressed to please.

She stood upright! Then bent so low.
Divorced a flower from its earth.
She plucked the petals for her beau
While he affected slothful mirth.

And then came words! “He loves me true…”
And held him in her gaze.
And when a kiss she sweetly blew
He coined a universal phrase.

She nodded toward forbidden limb
To ripened fruit remote on high.
And when he stalled, reminded him
“Did He not say ‘Go, Multiply?”

Adamant Eve@Genesis Ch. 3 Verses  4-7

© Noel Loftus

Prince Harry is just being an ordinary young man – and it's good for the monarchy that he is

Noel Loftus is a fellow member of ward9writers from Mayo in the west of Ireland. In his forties, he is married, with two children, and currently works as a buyer for a safety supplies company.

Princes, emperors and a decided lack of clothes

Poor prince prime beef!
A buffoon in the buff!
Sin City to the Sun!
What a laugh! Fair enough!
Press freedom!
Playboy privacy!
the teacup-storming chatter;
And butt-naked birthright?
Look away! It doesn't matter.

© Gwen Seabourne

Sun's Prince Harry pictures: watchdog receives hundreds of complaints

Gwen Seabourne is an academic specialising in medieval legal history, who has also published poems and stories in magazines and books, and on the radio, and has read at events including the Bristol International Poetry Festival. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sunday Review

Following the deaths of more than 30 people at Lonmin platinum mine, David Subacchi offered a sobering start to the week with Massacre in Marikana.

And, after Waiting in Line with Kay Weeks, it was All Out Before Tea, as Abigail Wyatt, turned our attention to the busy fingers of Kevin Pietersen, the cricketer accused of sending vile texts.

E R Olsen’s Shield, Wall and Fortress provided a haunting reminder of the unrelenting ferocity of fighting in and around Aleppo, as rebels continue to take the fight to Assad’s forces.

From the prospect of social change through conflict, to the unappetising prospect of social engineering, as Michael Gove tinkers with the examination system. An activity that Mark Thompson sees as Education Deformed. Rose Drew ended the week, drawing our thoughts to gun control in the USA, with Now Back to You.

Last week, we asked you a question after one particular poet suggested, after having work rejected, “Do me a favour. Don't put in the web page you are looking for some work as you are getting short of stuff.” The poet in question went on to question our editorial integrity, “I think you are excellent at drawing attention to the situations and wrongs which occur in countries abroad, but show a reluctance to upset the upper classes of this country. I must add I am not alone in this opinion.”

Though, the dialogue ended with a positive statement, “I still believe you have a great web site and an excellent idea.” Well neither Clare or I would argue with that. I should emphasise at this point, our decision to reject the works, was based on the poet consistently failing to include a link to the story behind the poems, despite several requests from us.

So, having asked you, is it helpful to get a 'heads up' if we're low, or is it just annoying because we may still not use your poem, we waited for a response. As it turned out, we weren’t exactly overwhelmed, but Hamish Mack commented, “It's your blog, you run it how you want to. I would go for keeping to your submission rules, even if you are getting low, it keeps the playing field level (he said managerially). And the head-ups are good motivational tool for me.”

E R Olsen emailed his thoughts, “By the way, I support you concerning maintaining standards even when the supply of work is low.  You’ll recall that I submitted something at that time, and I had every expectation you would maintain editorial integrity.  Please continue to do so.”

It’s really helpful to get feedback from readers and poets alike. Whether it’s here, in the comments box, on our Facebook wall, or on Twitter @poetry24blog, we'd appreciate your views about the blog and/or the poems that we publish.

In any event, don't forget to send us your poems!

Have a great week.

Martin and Clare.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Now Back To You

Another fence covered with teddybears and balloons,
more stricken newscasters,
who will grow into the story day by day,
shock giving way
to Earnest Frowns

CNN coverage folds back on itself, back
thru Jonesboro, Springfield, Peducah, Oklahoma,
Waco.   If I didn’t
see the date in the corner
of the screen, I wouldn’t be sure

what it was. What a soup,
a stew stirred, Culture the ladle and children peas
floating by, peas and diced carrots,
peeled potatoes, boiling merrily away. Charlton Heston
should SHUT UP, surely,

but there’s more to it
than that. As some commentator said, either
last week or last year,
It’s the heart to
disarm.  It’s the heart.

©  Rose Drew

Putting pro-gun theory to test, man shoots himself in backside
Ben Stein on gun control

Rose Drew has hosted open mics for +9 years (www.yorkspokenword.org.uk) and co-owns small press Stairwell Books. She’s published in newspapers, books, journals, including her collection Temporary Safety (2011).

Friday, 24 August 2012

Education deformed

Tougher GCSEs for lesser employment opportunities plus
Tougher GCEs so fewer of us get to complete degrees.
This is not root and branch reform - it is disease,
That shows us pure scorn and should form dis-ease.
Tories making things better? Oh stop... PLEASE!
The web the media weaves may show all idle as slobs,
But iKnow it's not only cos we lost Steve
That there's a shortage of jobs.
There are too many people claiming sick pay they say,
But true we know how they stay cos we nah forget
And though their PR is slick we ain't all thick... yet!
They're screwing all but the top social categories,
As dem feed our faces still, as ever,
Bed-time con-stories filled with market based equality.
In these times of economic bad weather which we witness,
Surely only those who should be in mental nurseries still believe
That we are all in this... together!

© Mark Thompson

Return of O-levels: Michael Gove to get rid of GCSEs in exams shakeup

Mark Thompson is a multiple award winning, self published, performance poet and educator of Anglo-Jamaican heritage. He has a website, tweets as @CCP_MrT and has a blog on writeoutloud.net.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Shield, Wall and Fortress

Shield, wall, and fortress of our nation.                   
That’s what he called them -- his army.                             
Not ever mentioning the others                              
whose scent only wafts in his rooms,                      
when a window is slightly ajar,                               
but somehow know his every thought.                    

Shield, against the rays of sun that would                         
creep in and light the dark corners                                   
that are never seen and never clean --                     
though the people hoped at first, when                   
he dined in cafes on tea and cake,                           
till the light in his doctor’s eyes changed.                         

Wall. Honecker’s wall --  one that keeps in     
when they say out,  one you can hear cry                
bitte, min fadlik from cracking bricks,                      
one blindfolded shoulders slump against        
because they knew it was time, or thought,      ,                
or simply could not wait another moment.                         

Fortress, where they will all be trapped, as                        
each day the masons arrive with trowels,                          
making sides too high for ladders out;                     
and rescuers come to ram the gates,    
when the sounds die down and smoke turns white,   
then stare and wag their heads, as though               
they did not know it was happening.

© E R Olsen

Syria dispatch: battle for Aleppo hangs in the balance

E R Olsen writes poetry and practices law in Nevada, in the U.S., where he lives with his wife and four children. His poems have appeared in several U.S. journals, most recently in Viking. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

All Out Before Tea

Old boy, now it just isn’t cricket;
it’s not how we chaps play the game;
we don’t, as we say, like the cut of your jib,
or the way you court glamour and fame;
and a batsman, no matter how brilliant,
should know that he’s only one man;
his average may be under fifty;
even so, he should do what he can
to ensure that his side’s reputation
is neither besmirched or bemired:
a chap who wears ear-rings and doesn’t fit in
is a chap who just might be retired;
and, when a chap’s spotted in Brinkleys
it fairly well rankles with some
who, thinking the fellow a bit of an arse,
might not be disposed to keep mum.
We’re sorry, old boy, but you’ve blown it;
this time, you have come quite unstuck;
we can’t have you calling your team-mate a ‘doos’;
though we have to admit, it’s bad luck.
If only the word had been ‘nob-head’
you might have avoided all blame:
‘tosser’ or ‘wanker’ or ‘plonker’ or ‘dick’
are allowed in a gentleman’s game.
But, some things, old man, are not cricket;
and we fear that you must bear the brunt:
how dare you compare a team member
to something as foul as a cunt?

© Abigail Wyatt

Author's note: At least one text - sent to opposing South African players - referred to England captain Andrew Strauss as a 'doos'. which has a slang application of 'dumb c***' in Africaans.

The vile texts that mean cricket superstar Kevin Pietersen might never play for England again

Abigail is one of the three founding members of the Red River Poets. The latter will be appearing at the Heartlands Project in Cornwall, 29th September, as part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Waiting in Line (Sonnet)

How many hours do we spend in line?
It seems unfair, or fair, I can’t tell which
But, certainly, it uses, wastes our time
Or, does it really? I just felt a twitch.

We waste the hours on cell and internet,
With sharing, posing, hiding, all the same—
When feet can do the walking, yes, and yet
We need some affirmation in the “game.”

These managers took care of attitudes:
Ranged from gripes, to grouchy, read them all,
Concluding that the wait created moods
So sent them packing to another stall.

Now, they get their luggage far away;
Negativity goodbye—so “Hey!”

© Kay Weeks

Why Waiting Is Torture

Kay Weeks. Ellicott City, MD. Worked in national historic preservation for 30 years, Dep’t of Interior, National Park Service, in the policy-setting Wash. DC home office.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Massacre in Marikana

My number is seventy eight
You may call me ‘little silver’
My resistance to corrosion
Even at high temperatures
Is known to be remarkable

I formed the basis of the crowns
Of a British king and his queen
Here in South Africa I lie
Hidden deep down below the ground
Waiting for you to extract me
 
In recession my value falls
Less demand for my services
Your catalytic converters
And your expensive jewellery
So little left to pay miners
 
Massacre in Marikana
Does it tug at your consciences?
Bullets, machetes and spears
What price your clean technologies?
What price your glittering trinkets?

© David Subacchi

South African police shoot dead striking miners
 
David Subacchi’s first English language collection ‘First Cut’ was published by Cestrian Press earlier this year. He is a regular contributor to ‘Poetry 24’.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sunday Review... and a question

Jim Bennett brought us back down to earth at the beginning of the week with the Olympic legacy - a perfect antidote to fine talk of inspiring a generation (and it's a generation on the move, says Noel Loftus  in Passport Photo).  And as the world's photographers pack up in London, E R Olsen wonders who else might be under observation in Drone.

But while we all go back to normal life, Fran Hill spared a thought for new lottery winners tossing and turning on That first night, thrashing out "the troubled what to do with it, / how to share, and who, with it". And thrashing in the shallow waters off West Cork, a stranded fin whale inspired Caroline Hurley's moving pantoun: Poor Brother Whale.

We finished the week with A Ballad of Blood from Sutanuka Banerjee - a visceral assault on the senses as riot begets riot in Assam and Mumbai.

A Question:
We have been told off for saying we were short of submissions two weeks ago by a poet who responded but wasn't chosen. Sometimes we have plenty of good poems in hand and competition is stiff. If the pot is getting low, we mention it to prompt poets to get writing news-related poems and generally get a response, which we are grateful for. But there's still a requirement to abide by our submission guidelines and link to a recent news item, and they will still have to compete with other poems sent in.

What do YOU think? Is it better to get a 'heads up' if we're low, or is it annoying because we may still not use your poem? Please answer in comments below.

Have a great week

Clare and Martin

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A Ballad of Blood

Riot against riot,
Retribution for eternal assassination in an alien land.
A flock of ousted canopies seeking a grain of sand,
An inch of belonging to lay down their listless bodies.
The body which sowed a sapling in the sleep,
The seed will bear forth flowers,
A stooping rhododendron of peace.
Chunks of red clay lie littered around the caravans of global geography,
Dead graves of faith, trust and hope.
When the nation was split by sweat and blood,
And soaked by shared rivers flowing amidst anguished territories.
Retreating folks carry an oblivious history, shattered by jolts of fanaticism,
A swooning stream of blue bile screams through mellow memories and shallow foliage.

©  Sutanuka Banerjee

Ethnic riots sweep Assam, at least 30 killed
Protest against Assam riots turns violent in Mumbai

Sutanuka is a researcher in the University of Malaga, Spain as an Erasmus Mundus student. She tries to pick up pebbles from the path of life and treasure them as the new chapters of experience.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Drone

A bird hovers above the yard,
hanging and humming without
nectar in a plastic feeder --
beady gaze, but with vision
like a giant foil-eyed fish.

I think the saccades are out --
summer, and the din sounds like theirs.
From the back porch, my expanse
is neatly protected by
hanging and hemming foliage.

But as I unscrew the cap from
my sweaty bottle of beer
something seems to be missing --
maybe it’s a long dead shrub,
maybe it’s a thing more dear.

© E R Olsen

Drones: From War Weapon To Homemade Toy

E R Olsen writes poetry and practices law in Nevada, in the U.S., where he lives with his wife and four children. His poems have appeared in several U.S. journals, most recently in Viking. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Poor Brother Whale

Seasick yet still docked, poor brother Whale!
He drifted into shallow West Cork water
at the mercy of a human gaol
as if for extreme unction, pre-inter.

He drifted into shallow West Cork water;
a fin whale, fourteen metres long and counting,
as if for extreme unction, pre-inter,
his crisp white stripes of surrender rotating.

A fin whale, fourteen metres long and counting;
Leviathan, wilting, handing himself in,
his crisp white stripes of surrender rotating,
inviting hospitality, this wild thing.

Leviathan, wilting, handing himself in,
majestic mammal of the oceans deep,
inviting hospitality, this wild thing,
from a fellow species, moved to weep.

Majestic mammal of the oceans deep,
is judged too massive to be euthanized.
From a fellow species, moved to weep,
he trusts to meet with kindness as he dies.

Despite our plunder and pollution, thank you  ̶
seasick yet still docked, poor brother Whale,
for showing such simple faith you’ll get your due
at the mercy of a human gaol.

© Caroline Hurley

Hope begins to fade for fin whale stranded in Baltimore Harbour

Caroline's poems have been published in e-magazine, The Electric Acorn. She recently returned to post-graduate psychology studies and has also written a novel, short stories, and both a stage and screenplay. 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

That first night

That first night we knew,
we turned over and over, hot and
restless with the weight of it,
the passioned love or hate of it,
the vague uncertain shape of it.

That first night we knew,
we lay, blinking into our moneyed dark,
troubled what to do with it,
how to share, and who, with it,
whether we’d stay true, with it.

That first night we knew,
we waited for an unfamiliar dawn,
wary of the form of it,
the heat or torrid storm of it,
the all that glitters norm of it.

© Fran Hill

Euromillions: Adrian and Gillian Bayford win £148m

Fran lives in the West Midlands (UK). She teaches English in a local secondary school, writes, performs, blogs, tweets and tries to resist chocolate.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

the Olympic legacy

he ran down for the paper
his pyjama top reminded him
of  the Jamaica running kit
the right colour anyway

he bought his paper
ran back along the road
and into his house
breathing heavily in the hallway

he checked his watch
brilliant he said
to no one in particular
taking out a fag

he worked it out
if he took off
the few minutes chat
to the guy who sold him the paper

and the time he stopped
to wipe his foot after
running through dog muck
and having to slow to nod to the nun

then he would have given
Bolt a run for his money
yes he thought bring on Rio
I’ll be ready


©  Jim Bennett

Can Britain convert gold into legacy?

Author of 67 books and proprietor of Poetry Kit, Jim tours throughout the year giving reading and performances of his poetry and songs.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Passport Photo

(Leaving Cert. Class Photo Of Twenty Twelve)

Gracelessly, gluttonous years stole away
Euro by euro
Legislate lightly
Do this in memory, pioneer for life
Prayer by prayer
Pontificate proudly
Robbed by degrees and by thieves armed with letters
Empty houses by houses
School prefabs are fine
See the next class prepped now for release
One little white face
Barely in frame
Tells a tale
That hope was frozen here
That this little bird must fly

To make space

© Noel Loftus

Irish emigration at highest point since Famine -- 3,000 leaving per month

Noel Loftus is a fellow member of ward9writers from Mayo in the west of Ireland. In his forties, he is married, with two children, and currently works as a buyer for a safety supplies company.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Sunday Review

What better way to start the week than with a Gold Medal? - which Lavinia Kumar awards to Kofi Anan for his tireless attempts at the hurdles of Syria.

Next Bob Cooper sprinted to us with a Bolt from the blue: Can You Sight-Read This In 10 Seconds?  There have been so many individuals to celebrate, but John Saunders was impressed by What Katy Did in the boxing.

But is it all the Politics of Distraction? asks Abigail Wyatt when '... the field of dreams gleams gold no more / and doubt creeps into our heads'. And in all the Games fever, other news sinks lower in the headlines: like the New Zealand servicemen in Hamish Mack's thoughtful Two Dead in Bamiyan.
 
We finished with a poem about the fascinating underworld of the Eggplant Revolution from Lavinia Kumar. You will never look at Olympic flower bearers the same after reading this!

Right! I'm off to rustle up a poem about Tom Daley's budgie-smugglers. Keep yours coming too (poems, not budgie-smugglers) ... you may think it's a long shot or that you'll end up on the ropes, but the baton needs passing!

Have a great week

Clare (& Martin)

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Eggplant Revolution

I sing of purple Olympic escorts

who do not hide in secret hotel rooms

acting for pimps to service a la carte

London men with testosterone aplume.

I sing as they walk with winning athletes

to a podium while plum males simper

behind with medals, flowers, the gold treats

for superjocks, supergirls – they wonder

through required purple and gold make-up

how inequality is never over

in men of power and of lordly clubs

who think only of women as posers.

We all sing loud of gold won by women,

of broken glass clouds, of the shrinking male

potence, of daughters who keenly listen,

who will rail, who will ensure the end of such tales.

© Lavinia Kumar

Men will exclusively serve as medal and flower bearers in Olympics for first time

Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, in the US and UK. She writes a blog for her brother’s seniorsmagazine.org, based in Portsmouth, NH.

Friday, 10 August 2012

What Katie Did


It was the cold war all over again

as nations sparred for victory

in the new Olympian tradition

of women’s boxing competition


and the citizens of Bray

boxed into the clubs and pubs,

clenched long necks in the heat

as she fought the final heath


and hooked her silver into gold,

lifted us off the canvass floor,

kept the blows at arm’s length.

knocked out our national discontent.


She showboated after her fight of dreams

to the punch of the nation’s triumphant screams.

© John Saunders

Taylor wins to take Olympic boxing gold for Ireland

John's first collection ‘After the Accident’ was published in 2010 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. He is one of three featured poets in Measuring,  Emerging Writers, published by Dedalus Press in May 2012.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Two Dead in Bamiyan

You see a mind flash
of the picture,
sand and heat,
blue sky and death.
An instant of
absolute quiet
two lives ended.
Incomprehensible to those
back here, and maybe even
to the people involved.
Who might feel as though
they are actors are pawns
being moved around.
But not now.
Now there is only loss,
a numbness.
Hate is the only thing,
that will grow from this.
Questions such as,
"Should we be there now?"
cannot be asked in
the shock of their dying.
Old Man Death
has swung his scythe
and urges us
to silence.

© Hamish Mack

Two New Zealand soldiers killed in Bamiyan province

Hamish is a 51 year old New Zealander, married with 2 children. He has been writing poems for about 3 years, and has had a some published. He also blogs, at Light of Passage.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Politics of Distraction

What will we do when the flags come down
and the fuss is all over and done;
when the tears of pride have all been shed
and the last of the medals have been won;
and, when the cameras cease to roll
and the crowds all go home to their beds,
and the field of dreams gleams gold no more
and doubt creeps into our heads,
I wonder what will distract us then
from the very fine mess we’re in
since we’ve had the bloody Jubilee
and they can’t pull that stunt again;
and we’ve had the Royal Wedding, too,
and now it’s Team GB.
What next, I wonder: could it be
a right royal pregnancy?

© Abigail Wyatt

Britain goes gold crazy

Abigail is one of the three founding members of the Red River Poets. The latter will be appearing at the Heartlands Project in Cornwall, 29th September, as part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Can You Sight-Read This In 10 Seconds?

In the time it takes

to skim a ten line poem

he springs from the blocks

as his legs and arms shove

his heartbeat ahead

of all the singletted others

until beyond the tape

he raises one finger,

but it was in this time

what we read in replays

is what his rhythm made.

© Bob Cooper

Usain Bolt sets Olympic record in 100

Bob Cooper won 5 pamphlet Competitions between 1994 and 2000. He’s just won another and a Pamphlet will be published by Ward Wood later this year. His last full length collection is still available here.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Gold Medal

Kofi Annan stepped into blood on streets,
slipped and slithered between army and rookie
fighters.  He held his head high inside a secure
circle of nations shooting spitballs across crushed
bones, empty i.v. lines, children’s bodies in linen,
all paraded on TV screens in spotless offices
where men rested, in fresh shirts, on soft chairs,
and moved chess pieces, snacked on fresh fruit.
But Kofi Annan did not rest, he flew to Moscow,
to Damascus, courted the Arab League, NATO,
sent in a team of blue helmeted observers, talked
nonstop with suits, heads in sand, minds blocked.
He gave his all as he passed by bronzed thrones,
silver dress swords, but only he was worthy of gold.

© Lavinia Kumar

Syria crisis: Annan's exit marks end of diplomatic track

Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, in the US and UK. She writes a blog for her brother’s seniorsmagazine.org, based in Portsmouth, NH.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday Review

As expected, we've had a couple of Olympic poems this week - beginning with Steve Regan's blistering attack on The Evil Games with its 'tarnished gold', 'rancid anthems' and 'being about /winning instead of the /important stuff of life, /which is mainly about losing.' Even Vala Hafstad's series of limericks The Animals' Olympics Report hinted at darker truths about marketing and one-up-manship.

For all our heroic aspirations, how sad it is, says Abigail Wyatt in Dark Days: a Reflection on Our Time, 'when the tribe no longer will carry its sick / but leaves them by the wayside to die' - a poignant poem inspired by a threat to disability and sickness benefits which has gone under-reported in the UK due to Olympic fever.

If this sounded like The Door to Hell - it isn't, that's in Turmenistan according to Craig Guthrie. But sometimes hell is a closed door, like those described by the ex-prisoners Lavina Kumar writes about so movingly in Just draw the sun on the wall.

What will we think looking back on all this? Noel Loftus has some ideas on that in Vision Twenty Twenty. But then hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it?

We're very low on submissions at the moment, and we're happy to have more Olympic Games!

Have a good week
Clare (& Martin)

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Animals´ Olympic Report

The games have begun in the city.
The fight for the medals ain´t pretty.
We heard there were spies
With government ties
Who helped win the gold ­– it’s a pity.

The humans hold games in the city.
We´re watching the races with pity.
We run faster than most.
Yet, we don’t even boast.
We cheetahs are humble and pretty.

The swimmers look slow and amusing.
They think they are flying and cruising.
Without flippers or tail,
Not a chance they’ll prevail.
To dolphins and whales they’d be losing.

We chimps don’t throw javelins ever,
But we are amazingly clever,
For a spear we can throw
With the ease of a pro –
A gold-winning, special endeavor.

It’s hard to watch men when they’re leaping.
Compared to us champions, they’re creeping.
Competition is steep
When we bush babies leap.
If matched against us, they’d be weeping.

We’re watching the games in the city.
The marketing race isn’t pretty.
It’s a fight, we are told,
For the market share gold,
Controlled by the planning committee.

As humans play games in the city,
We watch them with ever more pity,
As their national pride
Makes their champions collide.
Signed,
     Animal Expert Committee.

© Vala  Hafstad

Vala lives in Minnesota.  She enjoys writing humorous poems.

Animal Olympians: Nature's track and field stars
Long Before London Games, James Bond Tactics

Friday, 3 August 2012

“Just draw the sun on the wall”

jeered the prison guard, after our inmate
strike of twenty-two days for more sunlight.
Released after twelve, eighteen, twenty, thirty
years we stayed up all night to see sunrise,
and colors – red shirts, skirts, flowers, green hills,
trees, the beach, and blue sky, bicycles, sea.

Touch had changed.  Smooth faces were wrinkled,
a child left at two had his own of five,
and we could turn a handle, touch a door,
open it, shake hands with friends, a stranger,
feel grass or sand under our feet.  But
if your touch woke us up we’d surely scream.

News had changed.  We became human beings.
But we felt like strangers at home, with friends –
except from prison.  We were not heroes.
TVs had remotes, shops self-moving doors.
We had to learn to choose shoes, our own clothes,
how to spend money, and fight the bad dreams.

There were no masks in prison, though we find
them outside.  We could not lie to roommates
so we shared thoughts – we read books, learned to think,
learned to read faces, words.  And to see
liars in many of the world leaders.
So we still resist now that we’ve been freed.

© Lavinia Kumar

Beyond the Walls

Lavinia Kumar lives in New Jersey. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, in the US and UK. She writes a blog for her brother’s seniorsmagazine.org, based in Portsmouth, NH. 


Thursday, 2 August 2012

Dark Days: a Reflection on Our Times


These days the mornings grow darker and darker,
and I fear they’re growing harder too,
though the sun may sometimes consent to shine
and the small birds sing Te Deums in the trees;
still, the gathering clouds are deeper than doubt,
and the shadows cast are chillier and longer;
while the earth grumbles and stirs awake
as though some sleeping Titan quakes.

Perhaps I am old and disposed to sadness
since old age is the season for weeping;
a butterfly but crosses my path
and my heart will break in my boots;
but I think instead it is something else,
something like a loss of fellow feeling
when the tribe no longer will carry its sick
but leaves them by the wayside to die.

© Abigail Wyatt

Disability tests 'sending sick and disabled back to work'

Abigail is one of the three founding members of the Red River Poets. The latter will be appearing at the Heartlands Project in Cornwall, 29th September, as part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A Vision In Twenty Twenty

Where borders are straight
Imagined by kings
Eretz elders dictate
Levant youth take to slings
Too many seduced
Some take the stage
Range now reduced
Some will engage

Many horrors were preached
By cloth left immune
‘Til Aswan was breached
Then Zion’s balloon 
Boundaries burned
Re-invented again
Crusader returned
Purred kosher hymn

© Noel Loftus

Syria gears up for Aleppo assault

Noel Loftus is a fellow member of ward9writers from Mayo in the west of Ireland. In his forties, he is married, with two children, and currently works as a buyer for a safety supplies company.